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Datamyne Blog

Covering trade & transport, with tips on using import-export data to advantage

FTAs: Good or Bad?

Americans may have soured on free trade, but isn’t it in their best interests?

by Peter Quinter, guest columnist

I am still troubled by the Wall Street Journal lead article on October 4, 2010, with the headline “Recession-Weary Americans Sour on Free Trade.” I asked myself why would Americans who live in an economy built successfully on the principles of capitalism and free enterprise be against international trade? The WSJ article stated that a poll concluded that 53% of Americans said free trade hurt, rather than helped, the U.S. economy, a statistic that increased from 46% in 2007 and 32% in 1999. My bold prediction is that 2011 will be the year that the Obama Administration successfully finalizes free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia, and then Congress passes laws approving them.

Americans sometimes want their cake and eat it too. They want American companies to make and export more airplanes, more tractors, and more wheat and corn, all the while shopping at their local department stores and buying merchandise made in, and exported from, China, Indonesia, and Mexico. As stated in the WSJ by my law school friend Myron Brilliant, Senior Vice President at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “When we knock down [trade] barriers in those [foreign] markets, we create jobs here [in the U.S.]. We’ve got to trade to create jobs in our country.”

Boeing employs tens of thousands of employees in the United States to produce airplanes to sell overseas. American farmers grow wheat and corn in amounts far beyond what could be consumed in the United States. Caterpillar sells more tractor equipment overseas than it does in the United States. According to CNN.com, the U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated that reducing customs duties in the U.S.-Korea trade agreement will increase exports of American goods to South Korean by at least $10 billion per year.

With the Republicans now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Democrats maintaining control of the U.S. Senate, it is my hope that both my Republican and Democratic friends who understand and appreciate the benefits of international trade will embrace free trade agreements. That sure would help achieve President Obama’s ambitions of doubling U.S. exports within 5 years. Customs duties imposed by the United States on foreign-made, imported products, and customs duties imposed by Panama, South Korea, and Colombia on U.S.-made products are really just another form of taxation. Since we all detest taxes, let’s join together and pass these free trade agreements in 2011.

Copyright © 2011, Becker & Poliakoff

About Peter Quinter

10 May 2012: Peter Quinter is now a Shareholder in the law firm of GrayRobinson and Chair of the firm’s Customs & International Trade Law Group. Based in the firm’s Miami and Ft. Lauderdale offices, Quinter principally represents persons and companies involved in international trade and transport. Editor of the GrayRobinson Customs and International Law Blog, Quinter is widely recognized for his expertise in international and trade law.

You can contact Peter Quinter at [email protected] or at (954) 270-1864.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views or Descartes Datamyne. In addition, this article is for general information purposes only and it’s not intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind and my not be used for professional or commercial purposes. No one should act, or refrain from acting, based solely on this article without first seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice.

Date posted: January 13, 2011

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